From Our Editors
It may seem hard to improve on the simple appeal of beer-battered fish, but consider 131 Water Kitchen & Bar's particularly artisanal approach: beer-battered haddock, hand-cut fries, and house-made tartar sauce. It's one of several ways the restaurant manages to work beer into its high-concept pub cuisine; the menu also sneaks beer into other signature dishes, including Guinness meatloaf and smoked-cheddar poutine made with stout-infused bacon.
When the kitchen can't physically blend a brew with a bite, a variety of local and craft beers facilitates easy pairing. Ales from breweries such as Parallel 49 are a natural fit with the burgers, especially the patty of house-made bratwurst topped with blue-cheese aioli and pear-and-onion relish.
But before you've settled on what you'd like in your sandwich, you'll have to decide where to eat it. The main dining room screens sports on its HD televisions, but the people-watching on Water Street?viewable from the gigantic front windows and the wraparound patio?can prove just as entertaining. There's also a courtyard patio, whose quiet allows dates to whisper sweet nothings over dinner and drinks.
For an even swankier vibe, the restaurant's mezzanine level beckons larger parties to settle into its low-lit booths. Don't schedule your book club meeting on a Wednesday night, however?that's when team trivia gets heated downstairs.